Essential Air Service could be on chopping block in Trump budget

An ExpressJet Airlines Embraer EMB-145LR (operating as United Express) taxis at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 30, 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

( — A federal program aimed at guaranteeing air carriers provide passenger air service to small communities could be on the chopping block under President Trump’s new budget, published reports suggest.

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program launched in response to the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), which Congress passed in 1978. That law gave airlines the freedom to determine which markets they serve and what fares to charge.

The U.S. Department of Transportation currently subsidizes commuter and certificated air carriers to serve approximately 60 communities in Alaska and more than 110 communities in the lower 48 states, according to federal numbers.

“At a time when rural America is struggling for economic parity, commercial airline service is a lifeline that helps communities attract and support businesses and retain professionals, including doctors, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, and countless other individuals, who view reliable air service favorably when deciding where to live and work,” Regional Airline Association (RAA) President Faye Malarkey Black said in a news release.

“We encourage President Trump and his Administration to get to know America’s regional airlines, help us implement safety-first solutions to the pilot shortage, and ensure the nation’s airspace is responsive to the only commercial airlines serving our nation’s smallest communities,” Black added. “We look forward to discussing the important role regional airlines play in keeping our country connected and its economy humming.”

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Sightseers’ Delight started publishing in June 2016. The site, published by The DeFeo Groupe, collects and curates content about places where historical events large and small happened. The site builds off the legacy of The Travel Trolley, which launched in June 2009. The site aimed to be a virtual version of the trolley tours offered in so many cities.